Tourism was one of the last sectors to get the green light to reopen as the world began to emerge from Safer at Home orders. The travel industry took a massive hit from the global pandemic after coming to a virtual standstill. While millions of trips were cancelled or postponed and uncertainty clouded future prospects, the industry was hard at work preparing for the day that travel would be permitted once again. From hotels and airlines to museums and wineries, businesses dedicated to serving travelers developed plans and protocols to reimagine the services and experiences they could offer those hungry to travel once it became safe to do so.
One thing is for certain: until COVID-19 is behind us, travel is going to feel very different. Experience providers are making public health their top priority and doing everything in their power to ensure travelers feel safe and comfortable throughout their journeys. Following are some of the key things to consider and be aware of when traveling in the coming months.
Staycations, Nearcations & Daycations
According to Destination Analysts, more than 50% of American travelers indicated they would probably take a staycation rather than a vacation this summer. After spending so much time at home, we all have newfound appreciation for what is in our own backyards. Plus, you can help support the local economy and small independent businesses. As an alternative to overnight stays, “nearcations” and “daycations” are another trend expected for travel in the near future. Think day trip excursions to places like Laguna Beach and Ventura.
Do Your Homework
Before you choose a destination for a day trip or overnight stay, visit the official tourism board website to read the latest travel advisories, and learn about the local rules and regulations. They will inform you of any closures and how their community has adapted to the new social distancing requirements, such as reduced capacity at restaurants or outdoor tastings at wineries. When planning your itinerary, it’s also smart to check business hours beforehand and call ahead to confirm reservations. If you’re feeling cautious about a hotel stay, research how the hotels you are considering have transformed their operations and enhanced their sanitation procedures to find one that meets your standards. Expect changes such as contactless check-in, self-parking, reduced occupancy, and no more minibars—all measures designed to reduce and eliminate touch points.
Be a Responsible Traveler
Upon arrival, being a responsible, respectful traveler has never been more important. Not only is it in your best interest to adhere to the local rules, it will also benefit the residents, workforce, and your fellow visitors. Be prepared for requirements like maintaining six feet of social distance and wearing face coverings.
We are all craving the healing powers of nature and fresh air these days, and medical experts agree that being outdoors in wide open spaces is one of the safest environments with reduced risk of virus transmission. Activities like hiking, biking, camping, and beach-going will dominate traveler itineraries for the foreseeable future. Coastal destinations, such as Santa Barbara and San Diego, are expected to be in demand. So are rural destinations with smaller towns such as those in San Luis Obispo County and outdoorsy desert locales like Palm Springs.
All About the Road Trip
Car travel is expected to replace air travel for the majority of American travelers over the next year—or until there is a COVID-19 vaccine. Those who typically might have flown across the country for a city break or vacationed in Europe every summer will be looking for creative alternatives right here on the West Coast. As professional travel advisor Catherine Addé of Pasadena’s TravelStore says, “One of my clients is a family that typically takes cruise vacations in Australia and Europe. Recently they purchased a boat, so for a 16th birthday party we reserved several rooms for them at Bass Lake—quite the innovative change to swap a big ship for a boating vacation. And it’s just a four-hour drive from Pasadena!”
California is made for road trips, so there is no need to get cabin fever with so much open road awaiting. In fact, California’s tourism industry is encouraging all Californians to spend their hard-earned vacation time and dollars rediscovering the Golden State. Not only will this help communities recover from the devastating economic impacts of the pandemic closures, it will help put more the than 600,000 Californians who lost their tourism jobs back to work. It’s a win-win and a wonderful way to support our neighbors as we all navigate these unprecedented times together.
Check out visitcalifornia.com for dozens of road trip itinerary ideas, from classic Pacific Coast Highway gems to the jaw-dropping Highway 395 that traces the backbone of the state through the High Sierra. The open road awaits!